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Graffit Fonts® 4.0 Codename: BURN is was released in July 2009. GF4 is our biggest collection ever & features work from many artists. We are now hard at work on GF5 as well as tons of updates to our graffitifonts.net & graffwriter.com websites.
“No graffiti style can be captured into a single font, family of fonts, even an advanced opentype font with a million glyphs. A graffiti style is alive …like a plant, only fragments of a style can be built into a font, I can’t wrap the whole style up & give it to you…. It’s just impossible.” (Rase)
The official Graffiti Fonts collection was founded in 1999 by Bay Area writer “Rase One” of the “Full Time Artists” crew. At roughly 21 years of age Rase had been running a tiny “record” label & multimedia business known as Highground Industries since early 1997. Having been a writer since about 1991 Rase injected graffiti into almost every design project he laid his hands on. Tape and CD covers, fliers, logos, sites, pretty much whatever needed work Rase would try to help you out. At the time his native south bay area had a tiny and dispersed underground Hip-Hop scene. Commercial rap & general gangsterism were huge but b-boys, writers, emcees & Hip-Hop DJs were a small and dedicated community. 20+ years after the birth of Hip-Hop culture, in the era of grunge rock & chronic clouded cyphers this small “Underground Hip-Hop” community thrived via connections to the rest of the bay, LA, the midwest & numerous other bubbles around the world. These artist were doing something that was not cool at the time, not trendy or even well known in detail. The people of whom this scene was built were of all races, ages, backgrounds & creeds. The sense of community was strong. These people came together to preserve & develop what they saw as their lifestyle, their culture. It seemed to them like a dying art, maybe even a lost one. “My mother is an artist… I see how hard it is… so I take lot of pride in what I do, it’s who I am.” (Rase)
In this environment a fairly established crew like FTA found themselvesa good niche. After coming together from all around the bay these dozen or so individuals were now linked in to thousands of other artist like them. Graffiti had not died, Hip-Hop was not over with, Copycat G shit was not all the bay had to offer. In fact, all throughout the nineties these pockets of “Underground Hip-Hop” had been developing everywhere & by 1999 it had already become cliche & pedestrian to even use the term “underground” to describe the huge genre of emerging artists. We had become too numerous for our own good. In a time and place like this an obscure animal such as a “Graffiti Font” seemed like a natural development. Most writers end up doing alphabets or samples for someone they are helping to teach. Computers were now in every home & the so recently non-existent internet was now officially everywhere. So much digital graffiti art was being produced. Why were there no graffiti fonts?
Technically by 1999 there were 3 “Graffiti Fonts”. One of them was even made by well known writer Crayone from the SF bay. No one at the time could find any of them but they were out there. By the year 2000 there were at least 5 graff style fonts. There were 8 if you count the 3 full fonts developed by Rase during 98-99. Under the partially incorrect belief that there was no such thing as a graffiti font Rase had undertaken the creation of a full set of graffiti style fonts. Too busy dubbing tapes & CDRs & making sites to see the immediate potential for the Graffiti Fonts project he let it sit useless in a pile of other assets he planned on releasing someday. Only small teasers were published here on fulltimeartists.com. One day soon after sept 11th 2001 a CDROM & website were finally built to bring the Official Graffiti Fonts collection to the world. During 2000-2002 another two noted individuals also produced small sets of tag & throwie style fonts. By the day in early 2003 when the official Graffiti Fonts™ collection really debuted commercially it had come to adopt almost every graffiti style font ever produced ( a whopping total of 13). Response was immediate & surprisingly positive. “Our first fonts were so irregular and ridiculous, I never thought any normal people would want them… beyond that anyone deep enough in the game to appreciate these fonts could probably just have their homie bust some custom shit”. This was largely true at the time however Rase had underestimated the demand for graffiti fonts.
We had all seen graffiti bubble up into the mainstream many times. Usually writers & other devotees hated the shirts & games & logos etc that came from these trends and resented it as being cheesy but it was also validating at the same time. With initial support from the underground community the Graffiti Fonts collection went into full development & production. “I was afraid of Adobe & Monotype, websites & software companies scared me… I figured as soon as anyone noticed people liked this shit I would be immediately jacked by a company with more resources… We moved too slow.” (Rase) By the end of 2003 other font websites with much looser definitions of “graffiti” had sprung up as had some featuring the same fonts Rase had researched so long to find. The water had gotten a little muddy but the official Graffiti Fonts collection was still several steps beyond the competition. A nearly immediate advancement to Graffiti Fonts 2.0 would widen the margin enough that it began to make business sense. With over 30 graff style fonts covering the basic types of graff writers are familiar with the CD was a strong asset and true to it’s roots. www.graffitifonts.net now had thousands of visitors each day & thousands more visited fulltimeartists.com to see the fonts. Uncontrollable bootlegging immediately set in but the guys got enough attention and sales to make it worth the effort either way.
Work never stopped and by 2005 there was already a 3rd collection. 60+ fonts, custom software, stock images & art, the CD was full to capacity with goodies. “I finally felt like I had it right with the 3.0 disc…” (Rase) Graffiti Fonts 3.0 combined the fonts with software, images, art & samples in a more advanced manner that could truly “enable the unable” (Rase) to a degree the first 2 CDROMs could not. He liked the concept so much that he soon upgraded the first 2 editions of the collection to include all of the software & extras developed & harvested for 3.0. “The value is all in the fonts… Everything else on the CD is free! I want to earn my own money! … The book gives you the visual cues that show you how to get ill. forget specific software, think plain logic… It’s all been thought but it needs to be written” (Rase).
While this article was being written “Graffiti Fonts 4 Codename: Burn” was nearing completion. It’s 2008. “This is now my science… I figure it all resolves itself somehow to the divine proportion… It’s organic, somewhere in the universe is a place where math & beauty meet & writing lives somewhere near that point. Every single writer has their own style… even the biters. You couldn’t really copy my style any more than you could read my mind or tell the future.” Writing might be man-kinds most beautiful artform & I am proud to devote myself to it.